Top 100 Books for Every Man

26. All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front begins somewhere near the German/French front during World War One. It is told by a 19 year old soldier Paul Baumer. Through his own experiences in trench warfare and the incredible loss of life of his friends, classmates and teachers, Paul is overwhelmed by the complete hopelessness of war.

27. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson

This debut thriller–the first in a trilogy from the late Stieg Larsson–is a serious page-turner rivaling the best of Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly. Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him.  With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

28. A Confederacy of Dunces
John Kennedy Toole

Meet Ignatius J. Reilly, the hero of John Kennedy Toole’s tragicomic tale, A Confederacy of Dunces. This 30-year-old medievalist lives at home with his mother in New Orleans, pens his magnum opus on Big Chief writing pads he keeps hidden under his bed, and relays to anyone who will listen the traumatic experience he once had on a Greyhound Scenicruiser bound for Baton Rouge. (“Speeding along in that bus was like hurtling into the abyss.”) But Ignatius’s quiet life of tyrannizing his mother and writing his endless comparative history screeches to a halt when he is almost arrested by the overeager Patrolman Mancuso–who mistakes him for a vagrant–and then involved in a car accident with his tipsy mother behind the wheel.

29. East of Eden
John Steinbeck

The masterpiece of one of the greatest American writers of all time. East of Eden is an epic tale of good vs. evil with many biblical references and parallels. The story is ultimately that of good’s triumph over evil and the human will’s ability to make that happen.

30. The Thin Red Line
James Jones

The ultimate significance of war in The Thin Red Line (1962), James Jones’s fictional account of the battle between American and Japanese troops on the island of Guadalcanal. The narrative shifts effortlessly among multiple viewpoints within C-for-Charlie Company, from commanding officer Capt. James Stein, his psychotic first sergeant Eddie Welsh, and the young privates they send into battle. The descriptions of combat conditions–and the mental states it induces–are unflinchingly realistic, including the dialog.

31. His Dark Materials Trilogy
Philip Pullman

In a landmark epic of fantasy and storytelling, Philip Pullman invites readers into a world as convincing and thoroughly realized as Narnia, Earthsea, or Redwall. Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors.

32. The Dark Tower Series
Stephen King

King has described the series as his magnum opus. Besides the seven novels that compose the series proper, many of his other books relate to the story, introducing concepts and characters that come into play as the series progresses. Stephen King, which incorporates themes from multiple genres, including fantasy, science fantasy, horror and western. In short, it’s a little something for everyone by one of the best authors of this century

33. City of Thieves
David Benioff

Lev Beniov considers himself built for deprivation. He’s small, smart, and insecure, a Jewish virgin too young for the army, who spends his nights working as a volunteer firefighter with friends from his building. When a dead German paratrooper lands in his street, Lev is caught looting the body and dragged to jail, fearing for his life. He shares his cell with the charismatic and grandiose Kolya, a handsome young soldier arrested on desertion charges. Instead of the standard bullet in the back of the head, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake.

34. The Firm
John Grisham

While Grisham has 2 dozen books, all quality and gripping in their own way, The Firm embodies all that Grisham is about. One of his first and best known novels, the firm was number 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list for a full year. One bonus about the book: it doesn’t have the same ending as the movie. Its much better.

35. Hatchet

Gary Paulsen

Since it was first published in 1987, the story of thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson’s survival following a plane crash has become a modern classic. Stranded in the desolate wilderness, Brian uses his instincts and his hatchet to stay alive for fifty-four harrowing days.

36. The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald

A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning–” Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

37. Dune
Frank Herbert

Dune is one of the most famous sf novels ever written. Deservedly so.  The setting is elaborate & ornate, the plot labyrinthine, the adventures exciting. Five sequels followThis Hugo & Nebula Award winner tells a sweeping tale of the desert planet Arrakis, the focus of an intricate power struggle in a byzantine interstellar empire. Arrakis is the sole source of Melange, “spice of spices”. Melange is necessary for interstellar travel & grants psi powers & longevity. Whoever controls it wields great influence. Troubles begin when stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides. The Harkonnens don’t want to give up their privilege. Thru sabotage & treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet’s harsh environment to die.

38. Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is set in a grim alternate-future setting ruled by a tyrannical government in which firemen as we understand them no longer exist: Here, firemen don’t douse fires, they ignite them. And they do this specifically in homes that house the most evil of evils: books.  Books are illegal in Bradbury’s world, but books are not what his fictional — yet extremely plausible — government fears: They fear the knowledge one pulls from books. Through the government’s incessant preaching, the inhabitants of this place have come to loathe books and fear those who keep and attempt to read them. They see such people as eccentric, dangerous, and threatening to the tranquility of their state.

39. Zorro
Isabel Allende

A child of two worlds — the son of an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner and a Shoshone warrior woman — young Diego de la Vega cannot silently bear the brutal injustices visited upon the helpless in late-eighteenth-century California. And so a great hero is born — skilled in athleticism and dazzling swordplay, his persona formed between the Old World and the New — the legend known as Zorro.

40. The Naked and the Dead
Norman Mailer

Hailed as one of the finest novels to come out of the Second World War, The Naked and the Dead received unprecedented critical acclaim upon its publication and has since become part of the American canon. This fiftieth anniversary edition features a new introduction created especially doe the occasion by Norman Mailer.

Written in gritty, journalistic detail, the story follows an army platoon of foot soldiers who are fighting for the possession of the Japanese-held island of Anopopei. Composed in 1948, The Naked and the Dead is representative of the best in twentieth-century American writing.

41. Getting Things Done
David Allen

In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work. In Getting Things Done, veteran coach and management consultant David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to tens of thousands of people across the country. Allen’s premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. From core principles to proven tricks, Getting Things Done can transform the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down.

42. Ulysses
James Joyce

Originally damned as obscure and obscene, Joyce’s masterpiece now stands as one of the great literary achievements of the 20th century. Loosely based on the Odyssey, it follows Leopold Bloom and other Dubliners through a seemingly ordinary summer day and night in 1904 — a typical day, transformed by Joyce’s narrative powers into an epic celebration of life.

43. Matterhorn
Karl Marlantes

Matterhorn is a visceral and spellbinding novel about what it is like to be a young man at war. It is an unforgettable novel that transforms the tragedy of Vietnam into a powerful and universal story of courage, camaraderie, and sacrifice: a parable not only of the war in Vietnam but of all war, and a testament to the redemptive power of literature.

44. American Assassin
Vince Flynn

Before he was considered a CIA superagent, before he was thought of as a terrorist’s worst nightmare, and before he was both loathed and admired by the politicians on Capitol Hill, Mitch Rapp was a gifted college athlete without a care in the world . . . and then tragedy struck.Two decades of cutthroat, partisan politics has left the CIA and the country in an increasingly vulnerable position. Cold War veteran and CIA Operations Director Thomas Stansfield knows he must prepare his people for the next war. The rise of Islamic terrorism is coming, and it needs to be met abroad before it reaches America’s shores.

45. The Killer Angels
Michael Shaara

In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty were also the casualties of war. Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece is unique, sweeping, unforgettable—the dramatic story of the battleground for America’s destiny.

46. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Robert Pirsig

One of the most important and influential books written in the past half-century, Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live . . . and a breathtaking meditation on how to live better. Here is the book that transformed a generation: an unforgettable narration of a summer motorcycle trip across America’s Northwest, undertaken by a father and his young son. A story of love and fear — of growth, discovery, and acceptance — that becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life’s fundamental questions, this uniquely exhilarating modern classic is both touching and transcendent, resonant with the myriad confusions of existence . . . and the small, essential triumphs that propel us forward.

47. Undaunted Courage
Stephen E. Ambrose

In this sweeping adventure story, Stephen E. Ambrose, the bestselling author od D-Day, presents the definitive account of one of the most momentous journeys in American history. Ambrose follows the Lewis and Clark Expedition from Thomas Jefferson’s hope of finding a waterway to the Pacific, through the heart-stopping moments of the actual trip, to Lewis’s lonely demise on the Natchez Trace. Along the way, Ambrose shows us the American West as Lewis saw it — wild, awsome, and pristinely beautiful. Undaunted Courage is a stunningly told action tale that will delight readers for generations.

48. The Bourne Identity
Robert Ludlum

Jason Bourne. He has no past. And he may have no future. His memory is blank. He only knows that he was flushed out of the Mediterranean Sea, his body riddled with bullets. There are a few clues. A frame of microfilm surgically implanted beneath the flesh of his hip. Evidence that plastic surgery has altered his face. Strange things that he says in his delirium— maybe code words. Initial: “J.B.” And a number on the film negative that leads to a Swiss bank account, a fortune of four million dollars, and, at last, a name: Jason Bourne. But now he is marked for death, caught in a maddening puzzle, racing for survival through the deep layers of his buried past into a bizarre world of murderous conspirators—led by Carlos, the world’s most dangerous assassin. And no one can help Jason Bourne but the woman who once wanted to escape him.

49. Watership Down
Richard Adams

A phenomenal worldwide bestseller for over thirty years, Richard Adams’s Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.

50. War and Peace
Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy’s epic masterpiece captures with unprecedented immediacy the broad sweep of life during the Napoleonic wars and the brutal invasion of Russia. Balls and soirées, the burning of Moscow, the intrigues of statesmen and generals, scenes of violent battles, the quiet moments of everyday life—all in a work whose extraordinary imaginative power has never been surpassed.

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Comments

  1. A mliilon thanks for posting this information.

  2. Great list! There are some really good books hear. Men need to read more and there are tons of manly books out there, the world just needs to be made known about them. I’ve also composed a list of a few on my site that I really like and think are pretty manly.

  3. There are some good books on this list.

    However, there are a few others (including “Life of Pi,” “How to Win Friends and Influence People” [and the other self-help books you have listed], “The Kite Runner,” “The DaVinci Code,” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) that, to me, seem a bit questionable.

    Then again, all lists like these are merely opinions, and, whenever you make them, you’re bound to have some disagreements with others who read them.

    Having written that, here are ten other books that are worth reading:

    * “Anabasis,” by Xenophon – Following the Peloponnesian Wars, Cyrus of Persia hired ten thousand Greek mercenaries to assist him in seizing the Persian throne from his brother Artaxerxes. When he was killed in battle, though, the Ten Thousand suddenly found themselves trapped deep in enemy territory.

    After their leaders were killed by the Persians’ treachery, the Greeks elected three new leaders, including Xenophon, to guide them back to Greece, and to safety. The rest of the story deals with the many adventures they had along the way, including with the Persian army, and with various groups of barbarians.

    * “David Copperfield” – It’s about David Copperfield and how he grew up, and features a number of memorable characters, including Murdstone, Steerforth, and Uriah Heep, that Copperfield encounters through his life. It’s Dickens’ longest novel (and that’s saying something), but is quite a bit richer than “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Great Expectations.”

    * “Journey to the West” – This Chinese epic is about how Sun Wukong (the monkey king) accompanied the monk Sanzang on a 14-year journey from Tang China to India, to recover the Buddhist sutras. Sun Wukong isn’t just any monkey, though: he’s incredibly strong (he can wield a magic staff [weighing 8100 kg / 17881 lb] with little difficulty) and knows 72 supernatural tricks, plus he’s immortal and is very hard to hurt. The novel deals with his many adventures, both before he joined the monk, and during his long journey to the west.

    * Sherlock Holmes – the one you listed had only 12 of his cases. However, other versions (including “Sherlock Holmes: the Complete Novels and Stories, Volumes 1 and 2”) have all four “Sherlock Holmes” novels, and all 56 of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” short stories.

    * “The Aeneid” – It’s a Roman epic about how Aeneas fled Troy (after the Greeks destroyed it), how his men arrived in Carthage for a time, and how they ended up in Italy.

    * “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” – About Ben Franklin’s life, up until 1760, and how he came to become successful.

    * “The Iliad” – It’s an epic about the war between the Greeks and the Trojans (though it doesn’t include the Trojan Horse).

    * “The Island of Dr. Moreau” – Dr. Moreau lives on an island, where he performs experiments on animals, to give them speech, and to enable them to think and act like men. However, problems eventually arise…

    * “The Odyssey” – It’s how Odysseus traveled back from Troy to his home on Ithaca, and includes his many adventures along the way.

    * “The Trial” – Josef K. is arrested one day, but is never told what crime he committed, or why he’s been placed under arrest. As the story progresses, he meets a number of people who take his case very seriously, but is never told what, exactly, he did.

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  13. Preston Falls by David Gates would be an interesting book for men.

  14. Michael Fattizzi says:

    this is a particularly fine, well-rounded list…i have a special love of detective and mystery books such as Agatha Christie and Andrea Camileri’s Montalbano series…Of the classics, Stendahl, Manzoni, the Russians and French masters, Leopardi, D’Annunzio in the newest translations. My definition of a classic is a book to be read more than once and so I reread and reread. My book men’s book club recently read The Girl on the Train and it was well received. I recommended Moll Flanders but it didn’t go over well with a couple of members.

    • Lloyd Winston says:

      Our fledgling all-guys book club here in St Louis is a mere few books old. Could you–O, would you?–share a list of titles you’ve read?
      Thanx!

  15. Rosa Jones says:

    Night train to Lisbon by Patrick Mercier, a wonderful book with a misleadingly trivial title. It is about friendship, family and the experience of living under a dictator by a philosophy teacher, and it really made me think.

  16. Lapidaryblue says:

    There should be at least one Jim Harrison book and one Wade Davis and Gerard Cherry Apley and Trask by Don Berry and Edward Abbey and Charles Bowden and Wallace Stegner and JWPowell and Patrick O’Brian!!!

  17. BennettMarco says:

    A “manly” book list with no James Ellroy?

    Start with “American Tabloid.”

  18. lapidaryblue says:

    I find it hard to believe this is a group of men. Where is Larry McMurtry? Doug Peacock? Where John D. MacDonald? There is no mention of Travis McGee. Where Ross McDonald? Where is the GREAT Ross Thomas and his WuDu trilogy? Where is anything about the polar explorations? Nothing about Shackleton? I know it’s fiction but surely someone wants some testosterone! Brett Easton Ellis and the Bolivian marching powder for that matter? How about T.C. Boyle? Heck, what about M. Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian?

    • The Manliest Man says:

      As your attorney, I recommend you eat the drugs in my suitcase and add these books to your list:
      – A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley
      – The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
      – The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
      – Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders
      – Clockers by Richard Price

    • Mark Crozier says:

      Lonesome Dove is on the list…

  19. Tom Dunham says:

    Vasily Grossman’s “Life and Fate,” and sequel, “Everything Flows.”
    A brilliant Soviet “War and Peace” Chapters and scenes that will stay with you forever.

  20. Mark Crozier says:

    Very good list, some questionable ones on there but that’s the nature of lists. I am surprised, though, at the exclusion of the great hardboiled crime writers, namely Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I would also want something from Jim Thompson (probably his masterpiece, The Killer Inside Me), Charles Willeford (take your pick, but The Shark-infested Custard is a favourite of mine and has no less than four male protagonists) and James Ellroy (The Black Dahlia probably). These are manly books of the first order!

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